Pirkan Helmi was founded in 1999 to encourage its rural residents to develop their own home communities, improve its amenities and create new jobs and enterprises.
Pirkan Helmi is one of the 55 local action groups (LAG) implementing the Leader initiative in Finland.
Pirkan Helmi operates in the southern part of Tampere region. The region of Pirkan Helmi consists of the towns of Valkeakoski, Akaa, Urjala and Pälkäne. The total area of the region is 1930 km². The region has good connections formed by the Tampere to Helsinki and Tampere to Turku highways, together with the busiest railway line in Finland.
There are about 49 800 inhabitants in the region of Pirkan Helmi. Out of these, close to a half lives in Valkeakoski and one fourth in Akaa. Akaa,Valkeakoski and Pälkäne are growing in population, while the populations of Urjala is expected to decrease. As a whole, the region of Pirkan Helmi area is growing, but the growth is concentrated in Akaa,Valkeakoski and Pälkäne while Urjala at the same time are losing inhabitants.
The service sector provides the most opportunities for employment in as is the case in the whole of Finland. However, the share of services is smaller than the average for the entire nation, while the share of industry is bigger. Primary production is somewhat more important on an average than in the whole of Finland. The municipalities have different sources of livelihood: Valkeakoski and Akaa are mainly industrial, while Urjala and Pälkäne are characterized by agriculture.
The strength of Pirkan Helmi is its central location immediately south of the major city of Tampere, and the fact that traffic connections are excellent. Living in the region is cheaper than in the city area, which is a marketing advantage for drawing in new inhabitants. The high unemployment rate in the region is a weak point. The area is also strongly dependant on the existing major industry, and new small enterprises are welcomed. The acquiring of new inhabitants to the region is seen as a possibility. This would lead to new members taking part in the activities of associations. The development of culture and tourism in the region creates possibilities for entrepreneurship, which in turn creates jobs into the countryside. A risk in the future is the ageing of the population, which weakens the economy of the municipalities. The weakening of the economy of the municipalities leads to less services, especially in the countryside.
Local action group’s work is always based on a development plan drawn up before the beginning of each programme period. During the programme period 2014-2020 Pirkan Helmi’s work is based on Pearls of the Home Region - Strategy. The strategy is implemented by funding small grass-root level development and business projects. Pirkan Helmi sees its activities as symbolic “pearl fishing” in which good local ideas – pearls – are refined into a form, which can be put into effect. Pirkan Helmi will also carry out projects itself.
Pirkan Helmi will channel approximately 5,5 million euros towards the development of its area by the year 2020. You can read the development strategy in English here.
All projects receiving funding must be in accordance with the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014-2020, and with the Pirkan Helmi development strategy Pearls of the home region. In addition to this, a successful project is characterized by the following qualities: It is based on an actual need, own funding and temporary funding have been arranged, the project must include elements of at least one mainstreaming principle, and it must originate from among the local population. Attention is also paid to the resources of the source putting the project into practice, the eligibility for subsidies, the effects and results of the project, and the innovative nature of the project.
Clear concrete goals and results, especially concerning regional development in the future, are required for the part of international projects. The preconditions are, that inter-regional and international projects produce measurable benefits and added value for the development of the region. The readiness of inter-regional and especially international projects is assessed especially what comes to economic resources, know-how, and intentions.
The most important criteria for assessing international and inter-regional projects are: The project is in support of the goals of the development plan and brings added value to its implementation, without which the activities in the field of international/inter-regional activities could not be put into effect. The project creates new activities or a new policy. The project spreads tested practices and policies. The project adds to the knowledge and appreciation of local culture. The project furthers the organising of international or inter-regional events, and the project furthers equality and tolerance between different cultures.
The three mainstreaming principles of the Pirkan Helmi association development plan are: equality, sustainable development, and a communal outlook. The projects belonging to the development plan must further equality between the sexes, between age groups, and between different regions. The principle of sustainable development relating to the society, culture, and the environment, must be taken into account in the development work. The projects must not endanger nature, or the environment as a whole. In addition to the aforementioned, the project must strengthen the communal outlook, since communal activities provide meaningful activities, further a sense of belonging, and prevent marginalisation.
The public funding for the development strategy for 2014-2020 comes from the European Union, the government of Finland, and the municipalities of the region. In addition to public funding, also the private sector provides funds. For the part of non-profitable development and investment projects, 50 % of private funding may consist of voluntary work.
The principles of impartially and confidentiality are central working methods in Pirkan Helmi. The work is based on extensive co-operation between Pirkan Helmi and the local residents, communities, enterprises, organisations and municipalities.
Pirkan Helmi has a board and paid staff. The board is equally represented by private residents, local communities, business and associations, and municipalities. The board has 16 members and it resolves which projects will be funded through Pirkan Helmi by evaluating the project plans and application forms through the development strategy.
Executive Manager and project advisor are in charge of the everyday work of Pirkan Helmi.
LAG Pirkan Helmi ry
Tietotie 1, 37630 Valkeakoski, FINLAND
Mrs. Eliisa Vesisenaho
+358 40 750 2242